Fitzpatrick Cup 2022 Team Previews: University of Birmingham

2022 will see a grand return of the Fitzpatrick Cup after a year on the sidelines and a fresh crop of formidable European University AFL teams is ready to clash in Cardiff on February 5. Returning to the tournament yet again, is the University of Birmingham, and club member James Scott-Stacey offered a preview of both the men’s and women’s squads ahead of the tournament.

What has the last year looked like for Birmingham? 

Last year was difficult due to Covid, putting a lot of restrictions on our activities. However, as of September 2021, we have our most members with 80 players (and growing). We are almost completely made up of University of Birmingham students, meaning we often start from scratch each year in terms of numbers, but we’ve well and truly hit our stride. It’s getting better and better for our team. We can’t wait for the Fitzpatrick cup and all the opportunities 2022 holds!

What’s the aim of the team for your competition? 

The aim for our team is to enjoy the day out at the Fitzpatrick cup, kindly put on by AFL Europe. Of course, we would love to win and hope to compete, but enjoyment for everyone across our squads is key!

The tournament is in Wales this year, much closer to home, will that help? 

Come the tournament, we will be in a fairly dense period fixture-wise, with plenty of games in a short period of time. We’re playing most weekends and we don’t want to exert our players too much, so the closer to home the better!

Any young stars to keep our eye on? 

We’ve got some very talented players this year! Players to look out for include Ben Kinnear, Lawrence Topley, Tom Batchelor, Liv Smyth, Charlotte Van Der Zanden and Alice Shearstone. Across our men’s and women’s sides, those names will sure to be among the best players on ground in a few, if not all, of our matches.

What’s the key strength of the team?

The key strengths of our teams are the closeness and tight-knit atmosphere within each of them and the club itself. We’re a group with a lot of chemistry, making game play between us very smooth – you can’t teach a connection like ours.

Who’s the coach in charge for this tournament?

The coaches in charge are Olivia Smyth and Garold Pitman, both taking the reigns for the first time and we can’t wait to see how they approach the tournament!

The 2022 Fitzpatrick Cup will take place on Saturday February 5 at St Peter’s Rugby Club – The Harlequins Playing Fields, Minister Road, Cardiff, CF23 5AS.

Fitzpatrick Cup 2022 Team Previews: Cambridge University

2022 will see a grand return of the Fitzpatrick Cup after a year on the sidelines and a fresh crop of formidable European University AFL teams is ready to clash in Cardiff on February 5. Next up in our team previews, returning to the Fitz Cup once again, is Cambridge University. The tournament stalwarts will be bringing along both their men’s and women’s’ squads, with the women’s team looking to defend their 2020 title and go back-to-back. The club’s committee offered their thoughts ahead of the tournament below.

What has the last year looked like for Cambridge?

As it was for everyone, last season was difficult due to Covid. Unfortunately, many of our Australians were forced to head home. However, we played one friendly tournament in Nottingham and managed to organise our annual game last summer where both our ladies and men’s varsity sides won against Oxford. Additionally, we have had a good start to this season with promising displays in the NUL.

What’s the aim of the team for this year’s tournament?

We had an extraordinary victory in the women’s tournament two years ago in Oxford, so we are hoping we can defend our title in Cardiff this year. On the men’s side we are hoping to build on our good early-season NUL form and be competitive in the later stages of the Fitz Cup.

Any young stars to keep our eye on?

GAA converts have had a big influence in the WAFL in Australia, we’re hoping our own new convert Aine Cook can do likewise for us in the women’s team. On the men’s side, Harry Pollit has speed, game intelligence and a fine haircut, so expect big things from him.

What’s the key strength of the team?

Our men’s side is a mobile outfit who play at pace. Our women’s side has a core of experienced players who want to drink at pace, but that won’t stop them from bringing their best on the field.

Who’s the coach in charge for this tournament?
We’re still mourning the loss of our former coach Tim Shepardson. His biceps embodied all the positives of Australian masculinity. As nobody is worthy of his shoes, leadership and coaching duties will be shared among the respective squads.

The 2022 Fitzpatrick Cup will take place on Saturday February 5 at St Peter’s Rugby Club – The Harlequins Playing Fields, Minister Road, Cardiff, CF23 5AS.

Fitzpatrick Cup 2022 Team Previews: Oxford University

2022 will see a grand return of the Fitzpatrick Cup after a year on the sidelines and a fresh crop of formidable European University AFL teams is ready to clash in Cardiff on February 5. Next cab off the rank for our team previews is Oxford University, who will be boasting both one men’s and one women’s team for the tournament. OUARFC’s President and Covid Officer, Henry West, outlined the club’s expectations for the tournament and everyone’s excitement to be returning to Fitzpatrick Cup competition after a year off.

What has the last year looked like for OUARFC? 

We have been able to train consistently over the summer and into winter. It was awesome to have the women play in the WWE9 competition and bring the flag home to Oxford. As for the men, they are keen to return to competition and get some more games under their belts this winter. 

What’s the aim of the team for this year’s tournament?

We always go into a single day competition with the goal of winning but it’s also important to have as much fun as a squad as possible. We loved the Manchester Cup experience and think we can improve our performances to be two very competitive teams for the Fitzpatrick Cup. Wins for both the men’s and women’s sides are obviously what we are after.

The tournament is in Wales this year, much closer to home, will that help? 

Certainly, the short travel from Oxford to Cardiff is a bonus. We will be travelling on a bus all together which is always a fun trip, and we will be making the most of the extra sleep!

Any young stars to keep our eye on? 

We have seen some excellent arrivals from Australia this season. For the men, Max ‘Banjo’ Davie and Tom ‘Chopper’ Harrison are two key midfielders to watch and for the women, new recruits Freya Willis and Audrey Davies have been putting in excellent early season runs in the NUL. 

What’s the key strength of the team?

Our key strength is the cooperation and camaraderie across our whole squad. We love getting together for training and games. We work as a single squad of men and women and always do everything together. We translate this into our games by supporting each other and we want to be successful together, as one collective unit.

Who’s the coach in charge for this tournament?

We have been very lucky to have a new women’s coach this season in Justin Clarke. Justin played 56 senior games for the Brisbane Lions in the AFL from 2012-16 and is a tremendous coach for skill development and the tactical aspect of the game. He will be at the Fitzpatrick Cup coaching our women and helping out with the men too.

The 2022 Fitzpatrick Cup will take place on Saturday February 5 at St Peter’s Rugby Club – The Harlequins Playing Fields, Minister Road, Cardiff, CF23 5AS.

AFL Europe make three new appointments to its London team

AFL Europe is pleased to announce three new appointments to its London team.

Congratulations to new Event Coordinator, Jasmine Caruana, and Digital Interns Joseph Arthur and Jessica Barratt.

Caruana joins the AFL Europe team in London after relocating from Melbourne, where she gathered experience in event management working with the Box Hill Hawks and Smart Workplace Solutions.

Graduating from Deakin University with a Bachelor of Business specialising in sports management, Caruana has always been an avid sports fan.

Speaking on her excitement for the new challenge ahead, Caruana said, “I’m looking forward to expanding the knowledge of the AFL across Europe and the opportunity to travel to some amazing places while doing so.”

Digital Intern Joseph Arthur will also be joining the team in London after relocating from Melbourne. Arthur has a background in sports journalism with experience at national newspapers and professional sports organisations including Tennis Australia and the Eastern Football & Netball League.

In 2020, Arthur graduated from Monash University with bachelor’s in business and arts. Alongside his work for AFL Europe, Arthur will be completing his Master’s in Journalism at Goldsmiths, University of London.

“I’m incredibly excited to be involved with AFL Europe and can’t wait to meet some amazing people and grow the beautiful game abroad,” he said.

Joining Arthur as a Digital Intern is Jessica Barratt. Barratt completed an undergraduate degree in photography at Coventry University but has shifted gears towards sports and will be completing a Master’s in Sports Marketing at Loughborough University in tandem with her role at AFL Europe.

Hailing from the midlands, the Briton said she has quickly become enamoured with the AFL and everything it has to offer Europe.

“I’m excited to learn more about a new sport, a new culture, and for the opportunity to apply everything I’m learning at university in a professional capacity,” Barratt said.

Caruana, Arthur and Barratt have officially commenced their respective roles and the AFL Europe commission is looking forward to their contributions.

If you want to get in touch with Jasmine Caruana regarding events, she can be contacted via events@afleurope.org. For any media or digital content enquiries, Joseph Arthur and Jessica Barratt can be reached at media@afleurope.org.

Fitzpatrick Cup 2022 Team Previews: Cardiff Met

2022 will see a grand return of the Fitzpatrick Cup after a year on the sidelines and a fresh crop of formidable European University AFL teams is ready to clash in Cardiff on February 5. To commence our team previews, returning to the tournament for just the second time, is Cardiff Met University, who will enjoy the roar of the home fans with their city playing host to the tournament. Cardiff’s Conor Neesan offered his insight into how his team plans to start the year strong after a tumultuous 2021 season in the NUL.

What has the last year looked like for Cardiff Met?

The past year has been difficult for us, as for every team, with Covid and regulations on playing. However, we have grown the team ahead of 2022 and this will be our first year with a full squad of students, with two alumni players helping to coach.

What’s the aim of the team for this year’s tournament and NUL competition?

This year we want to be competitive across all formats and the Fitzpatrick Cup is the perfect place to start. However, as we are a fairly new team and have limited access to facilities due to the size of rugby in the university and how AFL is not very known in the region, we are keeping our expectations tempered.

Any young stars to keep our eye on?

Expect big things from Matty Morris, he’s a rookie full back transitioning from rugby with a great build for the position. Also be on the lookout for Dan Magennis, another rookie, who is transitioning from Gaelic football and will get some time in the midfield and off half-back.

What’s the key strength of the team?

The key strength of the team is undoubtedly our determination, we are a small fish in a big pond, but we will always compete and put it up against Oxford and Cambridge with relentless tackling and strong defensive play. Our strengths will go a long way towards helping us against their experience and knowledge of the game.

Who’s the coach in charge for this tournament?

The main coaching role has been divided up this year across myself, Club alumni Thomas Lindsay, Vice-Captain Callum Hills, and Cardiff Panthers player/coach Calumn Newman helps when he can.

The 2022 Fitzpatrick Cup will take place on Saturday February 5 at St Peter’s Rugby Club – The Harlequins Playing Fields, Minister Road, Cardiff, CF23 5AS.